Support Local Communities When Traveling Globally

Plan a more authentic and impactful vacation by supporting local communities.

| May 2018

The Parent’s Guide to Climate Revolution  by Mary DeMocker shows parents how to do their part for the climate revolution. She encourages readers to stop stupid environmental decisions and start taking smart actions to better the environment. This section shares why DeMocker’s family decided to support local communities during their vacations, and why your family should as well.

"Leave only bubbles." — Coral Reef Alliance

We’ve taken our children abroad twice in two decades. The first time, in 2002, was an all-inclusive vacation package generously gifted by relatives who didn’t anticipate its colonial air. The walls enclosing the beach resort spanned the beach all the way to the water to keep locals out of the all-you-can-eat-and-drink, 24/7 beach party, and the dark-skinned Dominicans who babysat, taught aerobics, and served us poolside piña coladas were referred to by the resort as our “Chocolate Friends.” (No, I’m not kidding.) 

Years later, when we wanted our kids to hone their Spanish-speaking skills and begin cultivating a global perspective, we traveled down the Yucatán Peninsula through Belize and into Guatemala. That time, we avoided all-inclusive resorts in favor of smaller inns, and that helped us connect to people more easily, including to a nurse who invited us to visit the medical clinic she ran with volunteers in rural Guatemala. That day’s visit ignited Zannie’s desire to develop her Spanish skills and more deeply understand other cultures; she works now to support immigrant and refugee students in the US school system.

Families wanting something other than the standard two-week Hawaiian vacation have many options for helping kids become global citizens while engaging with local residents, particularly around climate impacts.

To start with, choose locally owned inns, restaurants, and transportation services instead of all-inclusive packages at big-box resorts, which mostly profit foreign investors. Or use a service like Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, or VRBO to plan an immersive social experience, especially if your family shares space with a host.

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